What Is Jordan Hill’s Future With The Los Angeles Lakers?


Many Los Angeles Lakers fans were disappointed when Jordan Hill was not traded at the deadline.  This was nothing personal to Hill, but more based upon the belief that the Lakers could have gotten good value back for him, and that it would have helped with the tank.

But since he was not traded, it is worth asking: Where should Hill fit in with the Lakers long-term plans?

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There is no doubt that Hill has done an excellent job of expanding his game this season by adding a pretty reliable jump shot out to almost the three-point line.  And it is impressive that Hill not only has a set shot now, but that he can also regularly hit shots on the move, turnarounds, fade aways, etc.

This was critical because Hill has a very average post game and does not have the ball handling skills to regularly take bigs off the dribble.  In fact, before the recently added jump shot, Hill was scoring primarily on putbacks, tip-ins, dunks, etc. It was also critical  because Hill seems best suited to play the four given his size, and fours being able to hit jumpshots is becoming the rule, as opposed to the exception, in today’s NBA.

Although his overall rebounding is arguably down given what he shown in the past, Hill is still pulling down almost eight boards a game in only 27 minutes.  This equates to 10.5 boards per 36.  What is a bit troubling is Hill is averaging less offensive rebounds per game (his previous calling card) this year compared to last, despite playing 7 more minutes a game.  This may be due, in part, to Hill spending more energy on scoring.

So, all in all, Hill’s rebounding is still a plus.  It’s just not quite as good as it used to be when he only had to play 20 minutes a game, where he could focus most of his energy on crashing the glass.

What about Hill’s defense?  This appears to be the biggest area of concern.  From a statistical standpoint, Hill averages only .5 steals and .8 blocks per game which is, frankly, not good.  But even more worrisome is that Hill really fails the eye test on defense as a rim protector.

Although he does a decent job staying with players because of his athleticism, Hill routinely just acts like he is challenging a player at the rim, as opposed to actually going for the block.  This is better known as Pau Gasol rim protection.  This is extremely frustrating because Hill will usually seem to be in great position to get a block, but instead the player attacking the rim will simply get an easy layup over Hill’s outstretched arm.

Hill’s post defense is also below average, but this has more to do with him being undersized.  This is why Hill, as mentioned above, is is best suited to play power forward.  But the problem is fours are becoming increasingly more athletic, better jumpshooters, ball handlers, etc. While Hill might have been a solid defender against fours 10 years ago, in today’s NBA he just does not have the ability to regularly keep up.

And, truth be told, the main criticism against Hill has always been that he is a bit of a tweeener, stuck between the 4 and 5 positions.

So with the above in mind, what’s the verdict?  It seems pretty clear that Hill simply isn’t capable of bringing enough to the table to be a starter on a playoff team.

But what Hill is capable of is being a first big man off the bench for a playoff team, where he can adequately play the forward or center position against the other team’s second unit.  This will also keep Hill’s minutes down so that he can refocus his energy on getting rebounds, and specifically offensive boards.  Indeed, the significance of second chance opportunities cannot be understated.  Plus, with his newly added jumpshot, Hill would also be able to add an additional scoring punch off the bench.

Hill definitely has a future with the Lakers, just not at $9 million a year and not as a starter. One can only hope Lakers’ management sees it this way also.

Next: Byron Scott's Decision-Making Continues To Baffle

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